On creaking knees, worn with repeated hours on earthen floors making bread and coaxing coals into flame, she now knelt in the upper room in the city — and prayed.
“This is how you are to pray,” she remembered her mother telling her when she was but a little child, standing not much taller than her mother’s knees. The older woman had bent down and put her warm, wrinkled hands on either side of her face, looking deeply and sweetly into her eyes as she had continued to speak. “You are to pray to the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength. You are to pray as you are to love — with your whole being and without ceasing. For you must remember that you are always and everywhere in the presence of God and His Infinite Love.”
Remembering, she lifted herself a little higher on her own aging knees and pressed her hands upon her heart. Lifting her eyes to the invisible heavens, she was keenly aware of Heaven’s listening. “For Love,” she prayed in her silent way, with every fiber and synapse-firing of her flesh, with the peaceful, fervent purity of her soul. Her own particular affection for the people around her, gathered closely together in the upper room, drowsy with their own prayers, radiated like the soft fragrance of a rose on a still summer day.
“Oh, my God, that they may be healed, bound, and filled with Love… this is the prayer in the heart of your lowly handmaiden to whom You, Most Gracious and Good Father, gave the most precious and sublime gift, in all mercy and generosity. My Lord and my God, my Creator and my dearly beloved Son, You who are Infinite and Eternal, You whom I love and adore beyond all measure, beyond imagining … may Your Holy, Perfect, Loving Will be made known brilliantly to those faithfully gathered here, those who have labored and loved with you, those faithfully awaiting the Holy Advocate to lead them out into the turbulent world and into the sure forming of Your Kingdom. This Advocate is Love, Love most holy, Love most pure, Love Divine. You are Love, Lord. You live and give Love — infuse Love into the hearts and minds of your faithful disciples here.”
The night wore on, and while some ate and others slept, all were praying. As they served, as they chewed, as they dreamed, every action, voluntary and involuntary, was an action of prayer, for all were caught up in the net of spiritual vigilance, awaiting the word of release — without even knowing exactly for what they were waiting. Though some were fearful, she knew, all had faith … faith and trust, trust and hope.
Before the cock crew his song of awakening, before the light of the sun broke the slumbering darkness, she lifted her unsleeping head again, the pain in her knees the joy of a deeply planted tree. Her heart in her chest lifted to God, her arms outstretched, she gazed sweetly and deeply with maternal love upon the men and women gathered in the dimness whose prayer, even as they slept, was for the power of illumination of mind, heart, and will. Her own tenderly loving face was radiant with her wordless prayer…
“Oh, my Little One, Mighty Lord and Savior … The cavern of sorrow that hollowed so deeply at my heart has been filled to overflowing with everlasting joy! Ever sweet, ever kind, ever generous, You allow my heart to beat with yours … to beat with theirs … I suffer when you suffer and triumph when you triumph … And still I long as You long, I ache as You ache, for every heart to be restored, for every human to be healed of all division that can keep them from Your Love … I yearn for the hearts of these, your own dear friends, to be dispelled of all darkness and lack of understanding, to be filled with Light … with Truth … with Courage … with Love.”
The wonderful sparklings of her mind reached deeply into her heart, through the universe, and beyond … “Once, was I overshadowed by Your Power, oh, Most High, and always and everywhere am I embraced by You, enraptured by Your Love. My Beloved One … the more I gave wholeheartedly to You, the more You gave wholeheartedly to me. The sacrifice of the mother is the bliss of the child of God — I am she! You know my heart! Ready, willing, and able, always and everywhere, to love You, to receive You, to hold You — and to give You away when You will … and the child heart within me rejoices to serve You and to be loved so intimately and infinitely by You.”
Joyful tears welled up in her eyes from her blameless heart. “Your Spirit came personally to me once in intimate mystery, I trust and believe that You will come, now, and send forth Your Spirit again to overshadow and lift up Your disciples here. Enkindle in us the fire of Your Love, Your Word breathed in flame, that we may ceaselessly bear forth the transformative power of Your Love to the hearts of others, everywhere, for generations to come … Your will be done, my Lord. My heart is one with Yours … I hear Your Love whispering now, cooing softly in the coming wind…”
* * *
So quiet was she. So filled with Love from the moment that she was conceived in the womb of her mother. With empty hands, she had given herself wholly and completely to her Creator, had lovingly surrendered herself, body, mind, heart, and soul to God.
Above the heads of the disciples, tongues of fire burned … above the beautiful humility of her head, the fire burned with the wings of a dove, with the caress of hands, with a baby’s kiss.
© 2015 Christina Chase
Feature Photo © 2003 Dan Chase
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Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.